The Internet is full of advice about staging your home before you put it on the market. You want to de-clutter, make repairs, and clean like a madwoman. Buyers are looking for their dream house, and their vision of a perfect home doesn't involve fingerprint smudges on the staircase walls and your 8-year-old daughter's dirty leotard on the bedroom floor.
Which means that while our house is for sale, we're living a lie. We're now the kind of family with no family photos on the walls and no kid art on the fridge. (Rule #9: Remove overly personal possessions.) We don't have dirty dishes in the sink, clean dishes drying on the rack or a stockpot resting on the stove. In fact, we're the family that miraculously prepares and enjoys meals without knives, wooden spoons and cooking smells! We leave no smudges on the granite countertops and no crumbs on the hardwood floors. Which is good, because you won't find a trash can in sight! (Rule #14: the kitchen sells the house.)
When a showing is scheduled, we're the family that showers without shampoo and conditioner and brushes our teeth without toothbrushes and paste. In our bathroom hang fluffy, brilliantly white towels than never get damp; and our sink and tub remain miraculously clean and dry. (Rule #21: the bathroom should evoke a spa.)
For the last couple of weeks, my husband and I have been clearing off and hiding (and not always finding) the detritus of everyday family life-electric bills, library books, school forms, lunch boxes and kicked-off shoes. Having strangers walk through your home-opening your cabinets and peeking into your closets - is an uncomfortably intimate experience. So for everyone's comfort, I'll keep on living this lie. Until the contract is signed and the moving boxes can come out, we'll continue pretending ours is a picture perfect life where no one needs deodorant, mouthwash or tampons. Where kids don't leave their beds unmade, their half-finished art projects on table and Barbie naked on the floor.
Where the lights are on, the blinds are up and nobody's home.
Alma Klein has been blogging since 2006. She works full-time as a creative director at a shopper marketing agency in Chicago and lives in the practically-perfect village of Oak Park with her husband Josh and elementary school-aged daughters.
See more of Alma's stories here.